Cool

Quartering a Window Taxi

Along 9th Avenue in downtown Calgary, Gulf Canada Square’s dark panes of glass often provide a large mirror that abstracts the traffic heading east on the one way road.

I watched traffic for a while, looking down from the 12th floor of Banker’s Hall, until this taxicab drove by distinctive and separated from the other vehicles in that moment.  The slight curvatures of the glass did the real work to create this warp of a simple scene.


Downtown 1956 Ford F-100

Usually I see old, distressed trucks like this one rusting away next to a barn.  It was cool to see this fellow had his on the road.  I’m sure the old Ford appreciated being taken out for a spin and put to work!

For those who are curious, I believe this is a 1956 F-100.  The fender threw me for a bit but I think the owner just put on a replacement.  Or else this is a different year – I’m not an expert.  It’s a great looking truck whichever year it was made.


Mandalay: an afternoon in a street market

Throughout Asia, markets are a big part of daily life in a way very different from our malls.  I romanticize them a bit when I’m touring through my memories of trips to and living in Thailand, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Myanmar.   However, every time I return, I head straight for the nearest night market, food bazaar, or whatever to get a feel for the place and the people.  Just about a year ago, I was in Mandalay in central Myanmar and in a bid to escape the afternoon heat, I lingered in this corridor set off to the side of a very large market in the city.

Just a really cool spot to spend a couple of hours.  The kids were a ton of fun but pretty elusive – they welcomed me to take their picture but weren’t interested in staying still for even a fraction of a second.  No worries, we shared some laughs and I had some really good tea from the lady with the pink food (but I didn’t give that one a try).


Dinosaurs! At the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta

My wife and I took our kids to the Royal Tyrrell Museum last weekend.  We had told them about the “Dinosaur Museum” before Christmas and it had taken on grand proportions within both of their imaginations.  The museum did not disappoint as they were happy to complete two laps around the building.  The museum is divided into numerous rooms with large and small displays working back and forth between small trilobites up to enormous full skeletons.  We didn’t linger in any one spot for too long but there were two sets of very wide eyes (joined by two more pairs when the Dansereau cousins arrived in time for the 2nd lap).  There is a lot of space in almost all of the rooms so we were able to let the kids tour freely without worrying about them careening into other visitors.  From a lot of different perspectives, they designed this museum very well and continue to maintain it to a very high standard.  With the purposeful lighting, the adept use of color throughout and the incredible creatures I give the Royal Tyrrell very high marks and have no reservations in offering the highest recommendation.   With my parents joining us for the first tour through and the kids playing with their cousins on the next one, I had a bit of time to photograph not only them but some of the displays.  I would love to go back after hours with a tripod and a decent chunk of time.  There are many opportunities for creative compositions involving the beasts on display.  I’ll have to give them a call and pitch the idea next time I’m heading out that way.

 

I was very impressed with the Royal Tyrrell Museum.  It has incredible specimens, interactive displays for kids and for adults, really beautiful lighting throughout the rooms and you are able to dive pretty deep into the subject matter if you have the time and the interest.


The Crazy Lunar Eclipse

Before Earth’s shadow started to march across the face of the moon last night, I photographed the full moon as it climbed above the trees in Redwood Meadows.  You can see the mist around the moon and I was a little concerned that clouds and haze may obscure the visible signs of the direct alignment of the sun, Earth and moon.  I didn’t know then that the clouds would largely stay clear or that I was in for a very interesting performance.

The solstice lunar eclipse started normally last night and I was out in the freezing cold photographing the progression towards totality.

Then, things started to get very strange… as the moon started racing around like an excited puppy.

I went to bed as the moon settled back down, slipping behind the Earth and into deep shadow.

I saw it looming large on the horizon this morning so it seems to have emerged from shadow and appears to be behaving predictably once more.

I enjoyed the lead up to the eclipse and the morning after was spectacular as well.  The odd bit during the actual eclipse was very fun too although I’m still looking for a reasonable explanation.

Please note: the moon trails were created by moving the camera around slightly during longer exposures up to two seconds long.  I wrote the story for a bit of fun not to be mistaken for an actual phenomenon observed.


Shortlisted Images for the Travel Photographer of the Year Competition

The Travel Photographer of the Year awards have announced their shortlist and I have images in the hunt across three categories.  The TPOTY is a major competition out of the UK so it is pretty exciting to have some of my work recognized to this stage.

The image of the monks on the bridge at sunset in Amarapura in Myanmar is one of three images that are in the running for the single shot category.  The nuns at prayer and the lone fisherman are the other images that have been shortlisted in this category.

The following four images are finalists for the World in Motion portfolio category.

 

The last set is a really fun category to be shortlisted in.  It is the New Talent category.  The portfolio I entered was for Bagan in central Myanmar.  The objective was to sell a location, a journey or an idea.  From the TPOTY website: “Tell the story of a place, a destination, an experience, a journey, even a travel commodity, but sell it to us. Make us want to experience it.  This category is for photographers looking to start a career in photography.  Your images should give the judges a real sense of the place or travel experience and entice them too.  This is your travel advert.” I tried to share the wonder of Bagan across the four images.  It was an interesting exercise to cull through all of the photographs I made in Bagan and select four that provided a window into the people and the land.

 

With this competition’s international profile, there are many very high quality entries so it is exciting to have a range of work reach the final round.  The winning images will be announced in the next couple of weeks so we’ll see what happens.


Cruising in style

A neighbor has this lovely old hot rod that he’s brought up to show condition.  He takes it out for a cruise now and then.  Here is one of the photos I’ve made as he rolls past.

The blur is created by using a slow shutter speed on the camera and then panning with the car as it drives by.  Here, the shutter is set to 1/8 seconds using a 300mm lens on my Canon 1D Mark III.

 

In this second image, I have softened edges in the image to play up the painterly quality of this motion blur.  In Adobe Lightroom, I reduced the clarity to -84, set sharpening to 0, and adjusted noise reduction (luminance 100, detail 0 and contrast 0).  A different look, I’m going to print both to see which I like more.


The Trees on Stephen Avenue

 

These structures are located in Calgary’s downtown at Bankers Hall.  They are called The Trees and were erected in 2000.  At 85 feet tall, they loom over the pedestrian street and command attention.   They were designed to break up the wind in the corridor created by the street as it runs east to west through downtown.

A friend of mine is a painter and we went downtown yesterday to build a series of images that he can use for reference of a large canvas he wants to work on.  It was a lot of fun to collaborate on the front end of his creative process.  I’m looking forward to watching his vision come to life.

I really like the abstract forms that can be created out of the sculpture’s curves and the angular lines of the surrounding buildings.  Combined with the reflections in the windows, there is a lot to work with for artists in many mediums.


Fire Walking at Quantum Leaps

Bobbi and I had an amazing weekend on a retreat at a riverside paradise near Golden in British Columbia.  Quantum Leaps is run by Annette Boelman and Brian Olynek and is a retreat centre in the Blaeberry Valley.  Annette and Brian have created a haven for inner and outer reflection and discovery.  They are generous, caring people and it was very special to share time with them.  Our small group came together guided by Amarin on a series of explorations.  On Saturday night, we built a huge fire collectively and then we walked on the coals in a Fire Walking Ceremony.  It was one of those experiences that I am still thinking about a couple of days later and feels like a profound step towards a great part of the journey.

Note: Please click any image to open much larger on its own page.

Here our group is preparing for the fire walk as the fire burns down.  I am so happy to have shared this experience with my Bobbi, looking over her shoulder in the photograph above.


Annette begins raking the fire

Sparks stream upwards while the flames profile Brian.

Boards we wrote on ignite over the embers

The fire, the tipi and a man

These are the coals we walked over!

Bobbi walking over the coals and then enjoying the feeling afterwards

That’s me staying focused…

… And then playing in the moment

The night sky beyond the fire

If you make the opportunity to walk on fire, you may find it very worthwhile.  For the record, none of us had any burns and all enjoyed the night and the sharing.  As far as the retreat, if you want to find time for yourself and those you want around you, Quantum Leaps is very highly recommended.  When we left, the Kokanee salmon were just starting to run and will be driving upriver for the next month.  Bald eagles were beginning to arrive, I saw a different one each morning perched in trees along the banks.  A black bear didn’t find me but was out by one of the cabins and has been a regular visitor over the past few days joining deer and the occasional elk which also enjoy the grounds.


Tsuu T’ina Nation’s Pow Wow

Right across Highway 22 from my house is the location of the annual Tsuu T’ina nation’s Rodeo and Pow Wow.  What an incredible event to have in the Bragg Creek area.

Yesterday, I spent the day on the grounds photographing the Pow Wow Grand Entrance and then the evening’s rodeo events.  The people working, competing, dancing and enjoying these events were great to talk to and extended great warmth and friendliness to me.  I feel very honoured to have been able to enjoy these festivities with our local Tsuu T’ina band members and the people from other nations all across North America.

I will have more photo essays up but wanted to get a quick post up with images from the Grand Entrance.  This ceremony sees all of the first nation people who are dancing in the Pow Wow enter into the Beaver Lodge.  This is an large pyramid open all sides with a two tiered roof sloping upwards resembling a beaver lodge in a general sense.   Moving in a steady procession, the center of the lodge is soon completely packed as men and women, boys and girls of all ages circle around the main column in the middle.  Easily a couple of hundred dancers pulsed inside at the height of the ceremony.

They were carried onwards, dancing with little break for up to half an hour, by the drumming circles from different nations attending.  The drums and accompanying singing was incredible, powerful and charged the atmosphere.  It was a mesmerizing scene to be in, around and a part of.

Here are a few more images from my first look through the images I made (click on the photographs to see larger images).

As a footnote, Tsuu T’ina means beaver in their language although I do not yet know how they came to be called by the name.  Much to learn about my neighbours across the road, I better find time to do so as I’m very interested.


Photowalk at the Bar U Ranch

Darwin Wiggett and Samantha Chrysanthou led a group of photographers to the Bar U Ranch historical site just west of Longview, Alberta.  This was one of 1111 groups comprised of over 33,500 photographers participating in Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photowalk.  It was fun to be a part of the Bar U group and neat to be involved with such a huge international group.

I had not wandered through Bar U previously and was interested to see what subjects would pull my attention.  The ranch is set up in the style of its heydays when it was one of the largest ranching operations in North America.  That puts the time at roughly 1882 – 1925.  There are period costumes, decorations, equipment and sundry items – all of which lend themselves easily to becoming a photograph.

I really enjoyed the walk, meeting some of the other photographers, sharing a laugh and scouring around for images to make.

Thanks to Samantha and Darwin for a smooth operation and a fun walk.


Picture the Cure Auction

” Picture The Cure”  is a not-for-profit community based organization whose mission is to raise the awareness, bring dedicated people together and honour cancer survivors and victims.

In Calgary, in association with The Camera Store, they held an auction at the end of June which included over 40 pieces of artwork.  I contributed a framed 20×30 print of the Nuns at Prayer in Myanmar.  Angelo Avlonitis, the owner of Art Country Canada in Bragg Creek, donated the glass and frame.

I am very happy to have been able to contribute to this very worthwhile project.

Evelyn Drake, the organizer who I worked with leading up to the event, is walking 60 km in The Calgary Weekend to End Women’s Cancer – I hope you have a great experience!


Edges of the day in Cabo San Lucas

We were in Cabo San Lucas last week for a few days of vacation time.  It was our first time to the Baja Peninsula and found it to be a beautiful spot.  We spent a lot of time on the water or very close to it.  After a few years on the Prairies, the ocean has an incredible pull for both Bobbi and I.

I got out for a couple good shoots before sunrise and again before sunset while we were down there.

We stayed along Sunset Beach, just outside the town on the Pacific side.  Very quiet beach with wonderful rock formations the only breaks to the stretches of sand.

Definitely a place I am looking forward to shooting again.


Marble Carvers in Mandalay

Mandalay is known throughout Asia for their artisans.  The area’s stonemasons have earned a reputation for their exquisite work with marble.

Our guide took us to a street in Mandalay that is a centre for marble carving.  The street is packed with workshops with carvers mostly working on Buddha statues of all sizes.

The statues are lined up, in various states of completion, at the front of most of the shops.

Masks are not part of the uniforms and the fine dust created by the power chisels and grinders they use hangs heavy around most workshops.

Marble is mined in quarries near Mandalay in the Sagyin hills.  The best of this stone is alabaster, very fine quality marble which most of these carvers were working with along the road.

When a statue is ready to be moved for painting or to be delivered nearby, a cart like the one below is often used.

For shipments to more distant clients, the statues are framed in wood and then wait to be loaded on flatbed trucks.

At one end of this road, a low slung building housed woodworkers, which provided the single exception to the marble work packed on this dusty street running for several city blocks in the middle of this sprawling city.

Here too Buddha remained the focus of most of the carvings, but there were a few different statues lined up on one wall outside.

One more incredible location in Myanmar that I am already looking forward to getting back to again.


The Edges of the Day – Sunset on Inle Lake

This is the second part of the Inle Lake Edges of the Day series.  These photos were taken around sunset during two evenings spent out on the water.

It was a lot of fun working with the falling light levels and exposing to reveal different amounts of detail from pure black silhouettes to overexposed reflections in the water.  Many different ways to shoot these scenes, I could stay there for another couple of weeks and not get bored just working with these guys.


Myanmar Favourites

A short post with a link to a web gallery of my first set of favourites from my trip to Myanmar in February.

* If you can’t open the link, please scroll down to see the set.

Preparing springroll dough in Yangon's Chinatown

More to come as I am still working through the library of images I came home with.

Thanks for checking out the blog and the images.

Cheers,

Chris

* The link is to a Flash based slideshow so for those viewing on an iPhone, iPad or other device that does not support Adobe’s Flash, I have included the images from the slideshow below.

Studying at Chaukhtatgyi Monastery

Buddhist nuns praying in Sagaing Hills

Sunset over U Bein bridge in Amarapura

Sunset behind the temples and pagodas of Bagan

Senior monk at the Chaukhtatgyi Monastery

In Bagan

On the plains of Bagan

Marble stonemason carving a Buddha statue in Mandalay

Devotion during the full moon festival at Shwe Dagon in Yangon

Early morning on the water at Inle Lake

Fisherman's silhouette at sunset on Inle Lake


Another walk around the strip

Bobbi and I went to the Blue Man Group on Friday night.  What a great show!  The creativity was outstanding and we had a lot of fun.  No photos allowed so I just sat back and enjoyed.

Afterwards, we wandered around the Venetian for a couple of hours.  I really like that resort.  The casino is certainly there but it is one of the places where I was able to really enjoy walking around without having the gambling around every corner.  The halls are much like Italian back streets (except the stores aren’t local delis and bakeries – instead all the high-end shops are squeezed in side by each).  Great restaurants with patios overlooking the canals are a real treat.  We ate at one of Mario Battali’s restaurants – very fine food and a dessert of local dates and honey with homemade vanilla bean gelato made it memorable for both of us.  The canals are great and wind inside and outside of the Venetian.  I really enjoyed playing with the compositions in this place using the lensbaby muse (a new toy!) to throw focus all around the frame.

We rode back to our hotel on the monorail and it was fun to watch the vegas skyline slide by.

A big thank you to Kofo for taking care of our kids for the night.  Another to Andy and Diane for making the show and the night a special occasion.


Happy New Year’s

We have been out at Jaffray to usher the new year in.  Our friends, Ken and Rhona Beaumont, have a beautiful cabin on a hill overlooking a picturesque section of the East Kootenays which they continue to be very generous in welcoming us to stay with them.  Here is a photo taken this evening of the cabin as the clouds lowered at the front of an approaching storm.

The Beaumont Cabin in the woods outside of Jaffray, BC

We rang in 2010 with our children, my mother and father and my Uncle Bill and Auntie Ann.  It was a wonderful way to end the year and start the new one.

I am excited about this year coming up and wish you the same enthusiasm throughout the whole year.

All the best!

Chris


Christmas Buck

There is a small herd of mule deer who live year-round in our community of Redwood Meadows (just east of Bragg Creek).  This evening a buck and a doe came up to our deck to nibble at the bird feeders we have for the blue jays, chickadees, woodpeckers and nuthatches that overwinter in the woods around us.  She was a bit shy when I came out with my camera but after a couple of minutes staying relatively still, he wandered over to the mass of seeds that have accumulated below the main feeder and between bites, was good enough to pose for a couple of photos.  A wonderful place to live!

The buck just off of my deck with the town road behind him

This was the look I earned after telling him he had a nice rack


The Calgary Zoolights – 2009

We were down at the Calgary Zoo for a Christmas party on Monday night.  Minus 30 degrees C but my mom and I still went for a walk around the grounds.  The animals weren’t out, they’re too smart for that I guess, but the Christmas Zoolights were filling in admirably.

This is an annual event that runs through December, three are over 1.5 million lights in the shape of animals and Christmas characters illuminating the outdoor areas of the zoo.  I can’t wait to get down there with Bobbi and the kids!

A couple of photos made down there – a fun place to be on my birthday.

The christmas lights at the Calgary Zoo

Flamingos at the zoo

Christmas Flamingos at the Calgary Zoo